WLGA leader Harry Jones has welcomed the announcement by Edwina Hart, assembly minister for finance, local governme...
WLGA leader Harry Jones has welcomed the announcement by Edwina Hart, assembly minister for finance, local government and communities, of the offer of extra funding from the UK government to cover any overhanging debt arising from transfers of council houses to housing associations (registered social landlords).
Commenting on Mrs Hart's announcement, Sir Harry said:
'The association supports the aim in the assembly's National Housing Strategy of giving everyone the opportunity to live in good quality housing. All councils in Wales want to invest in their council housing to bring it up to decent standards after decades of underinvestment. But many councils would prefer to retain ownership of the houses, in line with the wishes of their tenants who favour retaining links with their local councils. Councils would prefer central government either to provide them with more resources for investment in maintenance and refurbishment or to allow them the same freedom as housing associations to borrow to make this investment. In May the assembly's local government and housing committee recommended that local authorities should be able to borrow on the same terms as housing associations when they need to raise money to repair and renovate council housing.
'Edwina Hart's announcement suggests that the UK government wants to encourage all councils to transfer council houses to housing associations. Some councils in Wales are considering that option, but whether or not to transfer must be a matter for local decision by councils and their tenants. It is welcome that councils will not have to worry about whether they would be left with overhanging debt if the decision is in favour of transfer.'